Downtown LA is a thriving hub for creativity and innovation in Los Angeles. A former industrial area in the city, Downtown LA’s old warehouses are now home to a variety of art galleries and murals, design warehouses and co-opts, and new upscale development. Downtown LA is a well-known fashion district and it currently houses over 5,000 companies that operate in and around fashion and design. The Fashion District also employs tens of thousands of LA residents.
The Garment District
During the turn of the 20th century, many people from around the world began to flock to LA in search of opportunity. The Downtown area was filled with warehouses and was known as the Garment District. Many shops specializing in the design and creation of menswear and womenswear began to call the district home.
DTLA and Hollywood
The mid-20th century brought great prosperity to the district as Hollywood’s influence became global and everyone wanted a piece of the action. For those in the Garment District, this meant the opportunity to style and clothe some of Hollywood’s most elite talent. The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising was opened in the downtown area at the time as well. The school was designed to offer opportunities to bright and creative individuals to step into the world of fashion and design in hope of making a name for themselves. It also served as a location for the season six filming of the popular reality TV show Project Runway, a show that pits prospective fashion designers against each other for the chance to launch their own fashion brand.
Multicultural Fashion Influence
Fashion in the Garment District has largely been influenced by its multiracial residents. Many immigrants from Mexico and Latin America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and other parts of the US flocked to the district throughout the 20th century and brought with them a wealth of cultural traditions. You can find vintage clothing, kimonos, hanboks, huipil, African textiles, etc. as well as a plethora of modern designs inspired by the many people who call the district home.
Santee Alley, located on Olympic Blvd, is a well-known flea market located in downtown LA. With over 150 retailers located in the alley, visitors can find an assortment of one-of-a-kind clothing, accessories, purses, and other merchandise at the market.
Downtown LA’s Fashion District is dedicated to supporting collaboration between small and independent creators, keeping the space unique, diverse, and accessible to all. The LA Fashion Business Improvement District is a co-operated corporation created by the property owners in the district to serve the District’s community. They focus on supporting small, local businesses as well as supporting up-and-coming ventures in the community. They are interested in keeping the area vibrant and clean, as well as continuing to support the many businesses that have operated in the District for decades. They hope to keep DTLA’s Fashion District a welcoming place to the community as well as to visitors.
Maria is a writer at Enki Tech, a Downtown Santa Monica technology company that specializes in the development of high-quality, user-friendly software, web platforms, and mobile apps.